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Retired naval aviator Carroll LeFon, perhaps better known by the nom de plume Neptunus Lex, was killed in a plane crash Tuesday morning when his F-21 Kfir crashed at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., his blog confirmed.
LeFon, 51, retired as a captain in June 2008 after serving as an instructor at Top Gun and in various positions at several strike fighter squadrons.
In his civilian life, LeFon worked for Airborne Tactical Advantage Co., a contractor that operates simulated enemy aircraft with which student aviators train. But as a http://www.neptunuslex.com">prominent military blogger, he was part analyst, part cheerleader, part critic and part poet who wrote about the Navy, his family, the military and global affairs with the casual tone, frankness and familiarity that flows through ready rooms. His sea stories were personal memoirs as well as parables.
ATAC and Fallon did not return calls for comment. The cause of the http://www.navytimes.com/news/2012/03/ap-contract-pilot-killed-fallon-nas-crash-030612/">crash is under investigation.
LeFon began blogging in 2003 during the early months of the invasion of Iraq. Like many other military bloggers, he initially wrote anonymously — it was and still can be problematic for service members to openly publish opinions.
Besides writing for his personal fulfillment, he tried to counter media reports that would tax the military's will to fight, said Cmdr. Chap Godbey, a blogger, foreign area officer and the author of http://blog.usni.org/2012/03/07/pardon-him-theodotus-neptunus-lex-carroll-lefon/">one of the dozens of tributes to LeFon to hit the web as news of his death spread.
"He was a guy who was able to put out the truth, put out first-hand reporting from folks and put out things that would not have gotten out any other way," Godbey said.
LeFon's blog chronicled his own experiences in the Navy, his transition into retirement and his second career in the civilian workforce.
He was thrilled to fly Kfirs as opposition forces because it meant that he would continue to operate one of the world's most advanced jets, Godbey said.
"The joy of having a second chance, not being over, that's a big thing for fighter pilots, because once you're done, you're done. And that change hits people pretty hard," he said.
Originally from Alexandria, Va., LeFon earned his commission through the Naval Academy in 1982.
"To this day, I cannot see the academy's chapel dome in the distance without checking my watch to see if I am late, and wondering whether I am going to be in trouble," he wrote in one of his posts.
He reported to his first squadron in the fleet, Strike Fighter Squadron 25, in July 1987. "Here is where I discovered that despite being the only male child in my family, I had twelve brothers," he wrote.
Several other billets involved training, including a tour as an instructor at Navy Fighter Weapons School, better known as Top Gun. He was the executive officer and later commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 94. He was with that squadron from June 2001 to July 2003.
Along the way he deployed seven times, serving on the carriers Constellation, Independence and Carl Vinson. He earned two Legions of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal (Strike/Flight Award), two Navy/ Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
He leaves behind his wife and three children, including a son who flies MH-60S Seahawks.
"Married to the best girl I ever met, who also delivered up three wonderful children. Don't really know how I could be happier, or more blessed," he wrote.